Hanoi, the ancient capital of Vietnam is a city of dynamism, antiqueness, and peace. Being the most ancient capital in the world, it is the hub of all ancient pagodas, the well-preserved buildings from the colonial periods as well as unique museums in the heart of the city.
Hanoi Vietnam is one of those places you will enjoy while exploring on foot. Here you will get the best of delectable cuisines, silks, vibrant nightlife, and a multicultural community. You will get a cool vibe of Russian, Chinese and French influences.
Away from the busy city centers, you will also enjoy the tranquil countryside with lush parks, the famous Ha Long Bay, verdant mountains and traditional villages. If you are traveling to Hanoi Vietnam for the first time, this guide will have you covered to ensure you get the most fulfilling vacation.
Things to do in Hanoi Vietnam
When you are in Vietnam, we recommend you not to stay in one place but travel most parts of the country. It is a very travel-friendly country where cheap flights, train tickets, and comfortable bus rides are easily available.
1. A Visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh is the first communist ruler in Vietnam who was able to defeat the French in the Colonial Period. His body has been preserved for eternity in a glass coffin and it is a major tourist attraction in Hanoi.
2. A Visit to the Hoa Lo Prison
This is a prison in Hanoi that has a very dark history. The prison was used by the French to house political prisoners in the colonial era. The remaining structures of the prison have been transformed into a museum. It is open from 8 am to 5 pm for 7 days in a week.
3. A Tour to the Ha Long Bay
This is one of the major reasons why people visit Vietnam. The place is only a 4-hour drive from Hanoi. You can dedicate a 2-day trip, sleep on the boat and the following day you wake up to the most beautiful sunrise. It is one of the best displays of nature in Vietnam that you cannot afford to miss.
4. The Hanoi Opera House
Set in the heart of Hanoi, the Hanoi Opera House is one of the most lavish buildings that’s a historical landmark. Here you will get to enjoy some classical performances ranging from sketches, dance performances, Vietnamese opera, and music concerts by renowned artists in the world.
5. A Stroll Around the Hoan Kiem Lake
Best known as Turtle Lake to the locals, Hoan Kiem Lake, is another great place to visit in Hanoi. It is located at the heart of the Old Quarter. There are many great markets, bars, and restaurants in this area that you can check out. The lake is also home to the fascinating Ngoc Son Temple which is only accessible through a beautiful red bridge that features a cool Chinese vibe.
Best Places to stay in Hanoi
1. Hilton Hanoi Hotel
Just a few blocks away from the iconic Hanoi Opera House sits one of the best hotels in Hanoi- Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel. This hotel is about 35 minutes from HAN Airport. That means it’s easily accessible from the airport.
More importantly, in this hotel, you will get comfortable guest rooms that are decorated in Vietnamese traditional style. Each of the rooms offers several amenities including, Wi-Fi, and ample space to work. For a little extra, you will also get access to an executive room with an executive lounge and a perfect view of the town.
2. Little Charm Hanoi Hotel
This is another beautiful place to stay when you are planning to stay in Hanoi for a short period. The Little Charm Hanoi Hotel is located in Hoan Kiem, Old Quarter and it’s close to most of the tourist attractions in Hanoi. On top of that, there are also cafes, bars, and restaurants around. It’s the perfect budget hotel in Hanoi. It is named a hostel but is actually a very decent hotel. We highly recommend staying here if you don’t want to spend too much.
3. Vong Xua Hotel
Vong Xua hotel is another great hotel that will improve your experience in Hanoi. The hotel offers luggage storage, bicycle rentals, and concierge services. Additionally, it’s situated in Hai Ba Trung, a place filled with top tourist attractions in Vietnam. You can check out more great Hotels in Hanoi right here.
The Best Restaurants in Hanoi Vietnam
1. The Hanoi Social Club
This is a popular hangout for the trendy and hip socialites in Hanoi. Here you will always get musicians performing unveiling the most relaxing and intimate atmosphere. You will also get some of the best Mediterranean cuisines although they have a great option for vegetarians too.
2. Red Bean Restaurant
The restaurant is just a few meters from the old Quarter. It features a high-end setting and has the best of Vietnamese cuisines. They have both local dishes and a variety of dishes from all over the world. Aside from that, you will get your favorite wines, cocktails and fresh juices.
3. The Hung Snake Restaurant
Feeling Brave? Ever dreamt of tasting a snake? If yes, then this is the place for you. You will get the chance to try snake that’s cooked in a wide variety of ways; fried, steamed or even boiled in a porridge.
4. Essence Restaurant
This restaurant sets the standards when it comes to contemporary décor in Hanoi. It attracts many visitors with finer tastes. On the menu, you will get staple Vietnamese dishes in a classy setting that will make you want to go back again and again.
The Best Time to Travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh
Hanoi is in the Northernmost regions of Vietnam. This means that the location experiences all the four seasons. In that, the winters are very cold while summer tends to very hot. This means that the most comfortable time to visit is either during autumn or spring. To get the most comfortable weather in Hanoi, you need to visit either;
- Between March and April or
- September to November.
To travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city, also known as Saigon, you can do best in the ways as described underneath.
The Best Ways to Travel in Vietnam
There are different ways that you can use to travel to Hanoi. The most common ones are by bus and plane. However, in some cases, you can use a train or arrive on your own motorbike.
Plane: Hanoi has a modern and fantastic airport known as the Noi Bai Airport that is ideal for both international and domestic flights. Once you get to the airport you can call an Uber to take you to your hotel.
Train and Bus: If you are within Vietnam, there is a high possibility that you will arrive in Hanoi by bus or train. Since there are specific train and bus stations in the city, you will have no issue getting around. This is also an excellent way to travel to other destinations such as Sa Pa in the Nort of Vietnam.
Walking: Once you are in the Old Quarter, you will have no issue walking anywhere you wish, unless you have mobility issues.
Motorbike and Cyclos: If walking is not an option for you, you can always hop into the cyclos for shorter journeys or a motorbike for relatively longer journeys.
Our Special Tips for our Loyal Readers in Hanoi Vietnam
If you are still reading now, we will reward you with our special tips. This has made our visit to Hanoi in Vietnam one to always remember.
Vietnamese Egg Coffee
If you are the type of person that enjoys a nice dessert and coffee, Vietnamese egg coffee (Ca Phe Trung) is for you. It reminded us of Tiramisu but then fluid. Sweet, milky and coffee. Yum. The best Vietnamese egg coffee in Hanoi without a doubt you can find at Giang Café near Hoan Kiem lake. It’s always busy and you need to enter through a narrow alleyway. Do not get intimidated. Go and get your egg coffee for around USD 1. It is a dollar well spent.
Hanoi Ebuddies Food Tour
Students from Hanoi Ebuddies will take you for a street food tour to the best places in Hanoi. You have to be a little brave since not all places look like 5-star restaurants, but the food in our experience was excellent. It also gave us a nice opportunity to talk to young people about living and studying in Hanoi and Vietnam. The tour is free, but you are expecting to pay the food for the students that are guiding you. Of course, a nice tip afterward is also appreciated.
Free Student Tours
We did two free tours with students. Their office is located near Hoan Kiem Lake. We went on a historic tour and a temple tour and learned a lot about the different religions in Vietnam and how they sometimes merge together. They also provide helpful tips on further travel through the country. The students mainly to do these tours to improve their English skills, but a nice tip afterward is of course always welcome.